The London production of Hair followed relatively closely on the New York production, opening in the West End on September 27, 1968, only five months after the Broadway premiere. And even though the show would have seemed quintessentially American (it was, after all, "the American tribal love-rock musical"), it transplanted well, running even longer. The original London cast album also replicated the success of the original Broadway cast album, peaking in the U.K. Top Five. The recording took the same approach as its American counterpart and was similarly filled with expressive performances, notably those of Paul Nicholas as Claude and Oliver Tobias as Berger, replacing lyricist/librettists James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Some elements couldn't quite be replicated. Nicholas, who was actually British, of course, tried for an American accent rather than copy the deliberately phony Cockney accent Rado had affected in "Manchester, England," which missed the point of the song, and elsewhere the cast's British accents sometimes undercut the specifically American subject matter. ("Manchester, England" did not appear on the original album, but was on Fresh Hair, a second volume of songs recorded a year after the opening, just as DisinHAIRited had been for the U.S. production. In 1993, when Polydor undertook a CD reissue, it added all of the Fresh Hair tracks to the original album.) But the score remained an alternately giddy and anguished collage of slogans, pronouncements, pleas, and excerpts from Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln, all set to catchy pop/rock. This version was slightly updated -- "Initials" mentioned the newly elected "Tricky Dick" instead of LBJ -- but it was still focused on the issues of interest to the late-'60s youth movement, so timely that it necessarily dated quickly. The 1993 reissue (released in the U.S. in 2001) was the most complete recording of the score yet assembled.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann